MAYBE it’s how intrusive Windows 10 can be. Or maybe you’re just fed up with working under the constant threat of viruses and other malicious software. Or perhaps, you’re tired of paying thousands of pesos for applications and equally weary of breaking the law by installing pirated versions of the software. Indeed, there are many reasons to dump Windows in favor of the free and open-source Linux operating system. Here’s what Windows users who are contemplating the move should keep in mind.
1.) It is not all or nothing. You can install Linux alongside your existing Windows system (called dual booting) and be asked every time you boot up your computer if you want to run Windows or Linux. Various guides on how to do this can be found online to deal with different versions of Windows and distributions of Linux. This brings us to the second point that Windows users should realize.
2) Unlike Windows, Linux comes in many flavors, called distributions. The site DistroWatch.com counts almost 280 distributions. Among the most user-friendly and popular are Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Some distributions such as Mint and Zorin OS are aimed at making the transition to Linux easier for Windows users. Do some research to determine which distribution is suited to your needs.
3) Most of your software will be free. Unlike Windows, most Linux software—the operating itself and applications–are free and open source. That means you won’t have to pay thousands of pesos to license an office suite like MS Office or take the risk of installing pirated software. There are tens of thousands of Linux applications today, so you’re likely to find the ones you need. Best of all, they’ll be free.
4) You can find Linux equivalents for the most common Windows applications. You can’t run your copy of MS Word or Photoshop on your Linux system, but you can run LiberOffice Writer or Gimp to give you similar functionality. Of course, there’s a learning curve involved in using the new software, but once you’ve got over the hump, you’ll wonder why you ever missed the Windows applications. A good place to look is the website AlternativeTo (http://alternativeto.net).
5) There are still fewer game choices. Gaming on Linux is much better now than it was a few years ago, largely due to Steam, which has pushed the use of the open-source platform. Today, the Steam site lists almost 4,800 titles. But the hottest AAA games are still released on Windows first, and some games never get a Linux version. For this reason, if you play a lot of games, or if you regularly buy the latest AAA games, you’ll probably want to dual boot your PC (see No. 1). That way, you can boot into Windows when you want to play, and boot to Linux to perform your other tasks.
6. Linux is much friendlier today than it was in the past. Gone are the days when Linux was reserved for propeller heads who relished using the command line. Most user-friendly distributions of Linux today, such as Ubuntu or Mint, are extremely easy to set up and use, and will not require a trip to the command line. Having said that, Linux rewards those who are not afraid of using the command line (still much faster than using the graphical user interface) and those who are willing to tweak and customize their systems.
7. You won’t have to worry about viruses as much as you would on Windows. There are millions of Linux users today but there has not yet been a single widespread Linux virus or malware infection of the type that is common on Windows. Security experts warn against complacency and cite obscure threats from time to time, but this does not alter the fact that Linux is by design more secure than Windows. And, if you’re not convinced, you can install a Linux anti-virus program
8. Your privacy will be better protected. Windows 10 has been described as perhaps the worst spyware ever made because of the amount of personal information it surreptitiously collects from its users. Despite a brief kerfuffle over Ubuntu’s online search feature (which is now turned off by default), Linux systems come nowhere close to this kind of infringement of your privacy. Chin Wong
Column archives and blog at: http://www.chinwong.com